SIKIRU OLUSESI AZEEZ
The arrival of Nigeria’s western allies and some others could signify an end to the activities of the most dread terrorist group in the country- Boko Haram- who has laid siege on the country and from which she has recorded highest number of casualties next to that of country’s civil war between 1967 and 1970.
It should be noted that before the advent of Boko Haram in the northern part of the country, there have been series of religious and ethnic violence in the north-west, north central mostly in Kano, Kaduna and Nassarawa states which often times claimed lives of innocent citizens, leading to migration of some people in the affected areas into other states, economic activities being at a standstill as a result of havoc wrecked on industries, making the state and federal government to either redirect attention in the budget implementation or creating supplementary budget to cushion the effects of such crises.
And above all, investors will be afraid to site their businesses in the area due to insecurity and the fear of the unknown.What really culminated into the dreadful acts of Boko Haram and other so called Islamic sects in the country are not disclosed to the public by the government at the centre, even when high level commission of inquiries were set up.
The submitted white papers were usually thrown into dustbins for no reasons at all. This may be due to the fact that some of the principal actors are regarded as sacred cows or the people in government derive some special benefits in engaging in the sinful acts of covering up bad deeds or because it will unveil the lapses in the government.
The problems caused by religious intolerance in the north could be traced to three groups which are; the elite Muslims in the country, the government from independence and the elite Christians in the country especially the umbrella body of Nigerian Christians, Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The Nigerian elite Muslims are of two categories the northern Muslim elite and the southern Muslim elite. These two share nearly same characteristics as a fraction of these groups control the nation’s wealth both in the public and private sectors. Less than Five percent of these groups believe that their wealth could be used in sustaining peace, raising the standard of living and creating wealth for the less privileged, all these through the provision of proper education for the people.
Without mincing words and for those of us that studied in the north or had their NYSC in the north, one can boastfully say that the wealthy Muslim elites in the country are not using their wealth to better the lots of the common man.
One cannot see in every local government area of the north, which has at least half of the entire country’s Local Government areas, a functional school, where western and Islamic education or Standard Islamic education is taught freely and sponsored by a group of wealthy men. Also, in the southern part of the country, wealthy Muslims do not see it as a duty for them to do so, because everyone practices his religion in isolation, forgetting about their brothers’ development, upkeep, care and growth due to their selfish attitude.
The elite Christian in the north and south are like their elite Muslim counterparts. According to a Nigerian popular adage which says “when your neighbour eats insect with kola, and he is not checked, the noises he makes at night would not allow you to sleep”. The elites amass wealth and corner everything to themselves in order to rule and lord themselves over others. They believe that the learned ones rule the world, forgetting a Yoruba adage that says “one may sleep with a snake on his roof top, but cannot sleep with fire on his rooftop.
The Christian association of Nigeria (CAN) and the churches that were the first victims of Boko Haram menace too, has been acting like the elite class clamouring for the rise in status of their sheep (members) basically to rule, ignoring the present chaotic state we all are in now. The story would have been different, assuming the organization and the Muslim leaders and elders have been calling for mixed (Islamic/western) education in the region. Also, the organization too have not been seeing their Muslim counterparts as neighbors on whom they have duties and obligations.
Above all the federal Government of Nigeria takes the lion share of the blame by granting free scholarship to study Arabic and Islamic studies related courses everywhere in the world culminating in getting FREE ideologies either rational or irrational. It is unbelievable that Nigerians could enjoy scholarship from Mali, Niger, Chad etc. Our doors have been left too much ajar to take in all things. We do not sieve nor consider the need and importance of what we are receiving as grant and scholarship. It is worthy of note that, he who educates you could have planted his ideology in you. For instance, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo impacted on many people in the western Nigeria because of the free education policy of his administration.
As the nation gears towards uprooting Boko Haram in the North-East and the country at large, it is imperative that all those concerned should turn a new leaf. There is also the need for setting up schools in the northern part where western and Islamic education would be taught up to secondary school level and where the medium of instruction should be English language in addition to the native languages.
Secondary schools in the Northern part of Nigeria which hitherto had the Arabic language as the medium of teaching/instructions, should add the teaching of core sciences, arts and commercial subjects as in normal secondary schools. Private individuals, mostly the wealthy ones and associations should be encouraged to show interest in this project.
In addition, at least two universities [one each in the north East and the North West] whose language of instructions should be Arabic need to be established by the federal government, with faculties of Education, Arts, Social sciences, Sciences, Engineering, Law, Medicine to stem the tide of this type of social disorder in future. Colleges of Education and Polytechnics of this nature should be established.
This is due to the fact that it has been found out that religion cannot be divorced from the culture in the northern part of Nigeria, especially Islamic education as doing so would create a balance in education. This would produce more literate people from that region and we could also stop importing wrong ideologies from other countries as well as protect our peaceful co existence as a nation.
SIKIRU OLUSESI AZEEZ
PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
LAGOS STATE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION